I shouldn’t have waited so long to blog my Saturday trip to Seattle. I’m sure I’m going to leave out something. As it is, this looks to be a fairly long post.
I did put up all the pictures I took while up there. Yeah, all eight of them. I wanted to take a bunch in the Science Fiction Museum but they didn’t allow cameras. Bummer. Guess y’all will have to go see it yourselves. It’s worth it.
But I’m ahead of myself. The main reason I went was to see Harvey Danger play. They have a third album coming out in a month, “Little by Little”, and have started doing shows to promote it. I saw them last December, but didn’t get to see the whole set due to freakin’ traffic from Hell. This time, I wouldn’t make that same mistake. Although I did end up having a lot of time to kill due to poor reasoning…
I got up fairly early for a Saturday and picked up a FlexCar. I got a Toyota Prius… yeah, the “hybrid” electric/gas powered car. Turns out it did OK on the highway. A little bit underpowered but cruised along at 75 MPH just fine. I think I took a hybrid last time, too… but the Honda Civic Hybrid.
Oh, yeah, and I ran before leaving this time, too, about 6 miles worth of treadmill and elliptical trainer speedwork. But I stretched well after and there was a couple of hours before I sat down for the 3+ hour drive north… Had breakfast at the Skybox, a sports bar in my neighborhood I’d never tried. I was lured in by the menu item “Cinnamon Bread French Toast”.
Mmmmm. Let me pause for a moment and savor the memory of Cinnamon Bread French Toast. Ah.
The Skybox is run by an older couple, and their banter back and forth made for a very home-y atmosphere. It’s a fun place. I’ll be back.
And once I got Smacky some water and food, and did my best to balance the twin desires of keeping my home secure from intruders and keeping it cool for Smacky and me, I was off. I left town around 1:00 PM. The show started at 9:00 PM. I had plenty of time…
Yeah, I was super early. Even earlier, once you consider that the first band went on at 10:00, the second band went on at 11:00… and Harvey Danger, the headliner, didn’t go on until midnight. Oy.
The drive was uneventful. I stopped once to get some water and a snack. No close encounters with road-rage-inflamed drivers. Weather was gorgeous. Car performed normally. Parking, which worried me considering how expensive it is in Portland, was only $3.00 for all-day. I was relieved.
My main plan for killing time was to visit the Science Fiction Museum, a geeks’ paradise. Mainly funded by one of the co-founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen, it houses the most amazing collection of movie props, memoribilia, costumes, and technologically-minded displays I have ever seen. I guess being incredibly rich makes it easy to collect things like the original robot from “Lost in Space” or the model for the Alien Queen from “Aliens” or Darth Vader’s mask from “The Empire Strikes Back” or… or… well, you name a sci-fi movie, any one ever made, and there’s something representing that movie in this museum.
I spent two hours and could have spent more time, and I could go on and on, but let me mention my favorite exhibit. The conceit of the SFM is that it’s a space station, and on one level, the level dealing with science-fictional transportation, there’s a “window” that looks out on the docking ring. It’s really a very crisp monitor that’s easily 8′ across behind a glass window but the effect is impressive. In front of the “window” are touch-screen monitors that list all of the spaceships currently docked at the station. And out the window, in motion, coming and going and avoiding each other, all to the same scale, large and small, are many of the most beloved spaceships of all time. Yes, there’s an Imperial Star Destroyer and the Millennium Falcon and the starship Enterprise… of course. But there are also ships like the Planet Express from “Futurama” and the alien mothership from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the Red Dwarf from, well, “Red Dwarf”. Very cleverly done, and calling up the information on that ship on one of the displays seemed to send that particular ship into action, landing or taking off or just zipping around or lumbering by, whichever suited that particular ship. I loved that window.
There are other great touches to the museum. For instance, they were constantly playing noises or other throwaway bits from different SF stories over the loudspeakers. I won’t give anything away but it’s practically a trivia contest in itself.
But even though I left the museum shortly before close, I still had hours and hours to go until the show started. I killed some time just walking around the Pacific Science Center. I debated going up in the Space Needle, but they charge for that and I’ve been up there so many times before. Mostly I wandered around the city, and looked for some food. Had Mexican again, just ’cause I got tired of looking for a place and was pretty hungry after all that walking around. Indulged in a lime margarita which could have been a lot bigger but was probably just right.
At one point, walking around, near the venue (the Crocodile Cafe), I saw Sean and Aaron from the band walking by, checking their watches and hurrying. I had a “do I act like a fan?” moment and decided to keep to myself. I had just put away my camera or I might have tried to sneak a picture of Sean’s crazy hair.
Here’s another oddness. Here I was, in a strange city, a tourist, and yet I still get asked for directions from people. What is it? Is it the fact that I’m on foot? Do I just look comfortable or confident? I rarely feel that way, but there’s got to be something going on that attracts so many lost people to me. Go figure.
I missed the opening band, mainly on purpose, but saw most of the middle band’s set. They’re called Razrez, which is pronounced in two syllables, and is just as crappy a name as they are a band. Just sayin’. Imagine the Ramones with lots more confidence and lots less skill or showmanship. Yeah. They could play guitar really fast.
And wandering around the club, I spotted John Roderick from the Long Winters’ out front, regaling a table with a story about something. I almost didn’t recognize him as he had shaved off the beard. He looked about 15 years younger, which means he looked about 15. I was a bit more tempted to shake him and ask when their new album is due out and why do we have to wait so freakin’ long… but sadly the margarita wasn’t big enough for that much courage.
After Razrez’s set ended, there was a 20 minute pause while the members of Harvey Danger got set up. Jeff Lin, the guitarist, came out and was tuning his guitar, very focused on his tasks and ignoring the crowd… until some guy yelled out “We love you, Jeff!” and Jeff blushed but did not look up. Sean Nelson showed up briefly to distribute the set lists and seemed genuinely embarrassed by the cheer from the crowd.
In the crowd, waiting for the show to start, I was standing near a guy who looked exactly like a live-action Steve Dallas, of Bloom County fame. Same greasy dark hair, same sunglasses, same bent cigarette dangling out of his mouth, same unbuttoned shirt. It was uncanny. He looked just like this. He was hilarious and only minorly annoying. He played “Air Guitar” to the songs, and sometimes even “Air Drums” but mostly did this strange not-pointing move with his hands where he would raise his hands in beat with the song but his index finger was pointed down. Hard to describe but it looked like a spastic symphony conductor.
Once the set started, Sean explained that their third album, “Little by Little” was coming out in a month, “so we have a request to make. We would like to play the entire CD, front to back, for you tonight. We have not done that yet.” Of course, the crowd loved that idea. The album, in my opinion, is going to rock. After one hearing, admittedly live, I think that I’m going to like this one as much as their first one, and probably more than their second album. Good stuff. “Little Round Mirrors” is, so far, my favorite.
Before starting the duet “Innuendo”, Sean explained that John Roderick was supposed to come out to do the second part of the song but that he literally had a frog in his throat which needed to be removed. Sean had to do both parts himself, which made for an odd performance. I’m pretty sure Sean was engaging in hyperbole, because Roderick came out to sing harmony vocals on one of the encore songs and there was no sign of any amphibians at all, although Roderick’s voice was a bit the worse for wear so anything’s possible, I suppose.
After going through all the songs from the CD, they then played a bunch of rockin’ tunes from their first two albums, starting with the one song I really really wanted to hear live, “Terminal Annex”. I was pogoing and jumping by that point, mainly because if I jumped up above the crowd I got some fresher, cooler air. The entire set list can be found on the HD message board, including their three-song encore, in this thread (scroll down).
After the show, I snagged one of the posters, and hung around for a bit to see if I could get them to sign it for me, but it was hot, I was tired, and I had a 3+ hour drive ahead of me. Thanks to the power of Diet Rock Star, I made it back home with a minimum of hallucinations and nearly no close scrapes. I dropped the car off at it’s parking spot in the Pearl District, and rode the city bus home, where I promptly collapsed into bed to begin my day-and-a-half recovery period.
It was a great trip.